The London Séance Society

- Sarah Penner


May mercy be upon the man who finds himself the enemy of a vengeful medium…

1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.

Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves…



At an abandoned château on the wooded outskirts of Paris, a dark séance was about to take place.


* Thanks to NetGalley and Legend Press for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided. *

I love the concept of The London Séance Society, but some of the magic was lost in the execution.

I mean, a murder mystery with sapphic séances? Sounds right up my alley. I’m not sure if The London Séance Society needed more editing or if I just struggled to focus, but the narrative seems to ramble in a way that was hard to focus on the details.

Something Penner does well is placing you in the spiritualism movement of Victorian England. The popularity of the movement and the controversy between ‘real’ séances and illusionists all come to life in this gothic story. I love the structure Penner adds into the process of holding a séance and the tug-of-war between belief and scientific fact.

I wanted to like Lenna and Vaudeline more than I did. While Vaudeline did have a little range, Lenna was very stuck in her role of logical science believer. And for someone whose profession is mired in skepticism, Vaudeline is awfully sensitive to criticism. Sure, some of her sensitivity comes from wanting Lenna to hold her in higher esteem, but she should have a much thicker skin than she displayed here.

There are some good twists and turns, the atmosphere is wonderfully gothic, and there are definitely good parts in The London Séance Society. It picks up steam as you go along and feels like an outright sprint in the end. Unfortunately, it just takes too long to get there, and parts of the narrative feel unnecessary or unexplored.


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